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PROVO — Police officer Sean Ellefsen is doing the one job he's always wanted to do. But after 11 years, he wants to do it better.
“I think it has to be something you think about. I think you’re doing a disservice if you’re not thinking about it,” Ellefsen, a senior officer with the Provo Police Department.
He knows being an officer seems to be tougher than ever these days.
“Any person who ever tells you they’ve never been afraid while doing this job is lying to themselves, and you,” he said.
However, Ellefsen wants the public to know most police officers are good and want to do things right.
“There’s a perception out there that the police are only policed by the police, and they’re not ever going to do anything about bad police officers; and that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” Ellefsen said.
Tuesday night, Provo Police Chief John King began a larger dialogue with the public by holding his department’s first Citizens Advisory Board meeting. The board consists of college professors, community leaders, even longtime residents; the city's Latino and black communities were also represented at the meeting.
“What we want to do is hear from the community and continue to educate our officers. They’re good people, but we want to talk about cultural awareness and things,” King said.
It would be easy to mock “cultural awareness” and “Provo” being used in the same sentence, but King said that's why it's important to talk about it. There are instances even in Provo, he said.
“People who have been in a minority situation, especially dealing with white police (officers), see those encounters differently,” the chief said. “And we want to share those experiences with officers.”
It’s something Ellefsen thinks could make him, and the entire department, even better.
“I think it’s an amazing opportunity and it’s an amazing idea,” he said.